What follows is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown. It was written in response to Bill Drummond receiving the annual email from Diva Harris at Caught by the River, inviting contributors to contribute an end of year Shadows & Reflections piece. But once Bill Drummond handed the pen to Tenzing Scott Brown, Tenzing decided to take it elsewhere. Then Tenzing deleted what he wrote and wrote ELVIS LOVES BILL instead.
With photo by Tracey Moberly.
ELVIS LOVES BILL
Tenzing Scott Brown
ELVIS LOVES BILL is a Forty Second Play by Tenzing Scott Brown.
ELVIS LOVES BILL is mainly a two-hander. The main two characters are Elvis and Bill.
ELVIS LOVES BILL is the last of the Pied Wagtail quartet of plays written by Tenzing Scott Brown in the November and December of 2020.
Elvis is an approximation of Elvis Presley backstage just before his ’68 Comeback Special.
Bill is an approximation of the real Bill Drummond in the early months of 2020, thus just before the Great Pandemic, thus before he found he was transforming into being a wooden puppet playing the part of an Elderly Gentleman.
There is a minor role in this Forty Second Play. The minor role is made up of The Audience who are sitting on the 298 bus as it is waiting to leave Southgate Bus Terminal for Potters Bar.
Southgate is in suburban North London.
Elvis can be played by a male actor of a certain age with a Glaswegian accent. Some in The Audience might mistake him as a rather past-their-prime Elvis impersonator. As in, not unlike the Elvis impersonator the real Bill Drummond once met on a bus in Hackney.
Hackney is in East London.
Bill is to be played by a female actor of any age, with any accent but not a Glaswegian one. But she must be dressed in the real Bill Drummond’s regular walking boots, turned up jeans and blue shirt. As in the clothes the real Bill Drummond wore before he started to transform into a wooden puppet playing the part of an Elderly Gentleman.
The Audience can be played by anyone reading, listening or watching this Forty Second Play.
ELVIS LOVES BILL is set outside of Southgate Tube Station on the Piccadilly Line on the late morning of the 3rd of December 2020. The bus terminal in question is right by the Southgate Tube Station.
The Sky is clear and blue, except for a ripple of those distant Cirrus Clouds. The day is yet to turn and tip to the dark.
A pied wagtail can be seen scuttling about.
Somewhere in the distance we can hear The Coral singing In The Morning.
To stage right is a bench.
This bench is a stand-in for the celebrated Art Deco eight-sided bench with the Underground sign above it, that is positioned outside of Southgate Tube Station.
We are all stand-ins.
Bill enters from stage left carrying one of the real Bill Drummond’s cumbersome and heavy handmade easels. She positions it stage left, facing The Audience, as in the folk sitting on the number 298 bus waiting for it to leave for Potters Bar.
Bill then leaves the stage and returns with one of the real Bill Drummond’s large canvases.
Bill positions the canvas on the easel. It is only now that The Audience can see what is painted on the front of the canvas. What is painted on the front of the canvas are the three words ELVIS LOVES BILL. At that moment Elvis, who had been sitting with The Audience on the 298 bus waiting for it to leave for Potters Bar, gets off the bus and strides up onto the stage to confront Bill.
And this is where the dialogue for this play begins:
Who is Bill?
And who painted this painting?
And who gave you the right to proclaim that I love you.
It was a democratic decision made by the people of Edinburgh.
What the fuck?
Late last year, before the Great Pandemic and everything, I gave the people of Edinburgh the right to vote on whether I love you or you love me. And they voted that you love me. So I then painted this painting declaring your love for me. And if it were not for the Great Pandemic, I would have returned to Edinburgh to hang this painting in a bar down on Leith Walk.
So this is some sort of arranged marriage?
No, it’s democracy.
Then I suggest that we head over to Glasgow and we ask the good people on the banks of the Clyde to have their vote. And I think you will find they will vote for you loving me.
But I do love you.
But that is not what the painting says.
At that moment Elvis notices that the 298 bus to Potters Bar is leaving. Elvis makes a run for it.
But he misses his bus.
We all miss our bus.
Elvis turns to Bill.
You made me miss my bus. Now I will never get to Potters Bar. There will never be a ’68 Come Back Special and you will just become a wooden puppet playing the part of an Elderly Gentleman.
Elvis then disappears out the back of the theatre.
Bill sits down on the bench that is a stand-in for the eight-sided bench with the Underground sign on top.
Bill pulls out her hand-held device.
Bill sends a text message to her best friend.
The text message reads:
“You’ll never guess, I have just had a run in with Elvis Presley outside Southgate Tube.”
The pied wagtail is still scuttling about, oblivious to the tribulations of others.
And that is…
of this Forty Second Play.
But just after Elvis has left the building, from somewhere we hear the sound of Are You Lonesome Tonight?, as sung by Elvis Presley on the evening of the 3rd of December 1968 as part of his ’68 Comeback Special, drifting into the theatre. But in this version Elvis does not destroy the song by breaking down in laughter half way through.
Elvis must have caught the bus to Potters Bar just in time.
We can all catch the bus just in time.
On the 18th of October 2019, the real Bill Drummond stood on the stage of the Leith Theatre and asked the people of Edinburgh to vote. What they were being asked to vote on was, whether Bill loves Elvis or Elvis loves Bill. The people of Edinburgh understood that whatever way they voted, the real Bill Drummond would paint one of his 25 Paintings with the words declaring the outcome of their democratic choice. Using a show of hands the result of the vote was a landslide in favour of Elvis loving Bill.
The real Bill Drummond then pledged to the people of Edinburgh that once the painting had been done, he would return to their city with the painting. And he would then hang it on the wall of the Leith Depot, which is a bar down on Leith Walk.
The real Bill Drummond never returned to Edinburgh before the Great Pandemic struck.
It is now thirteen months later, and on a cold early December morning the real Bill Drummond has asked his wayward other self – Tenzing Scott Brown – if he could write one of his Forty Second Plays on the subject of Elvis Loving Bill. The real Bill Drummond declared to Tenzing Scott Brown that this play might then be performed in the upstairs room at the Leith Depot in 2021. Tenzing Scott Brown had heard the real Bill Drummond make many of these vague declarations in the past.
Tenzing Scott Brown only agreed to write this Forty Second Play on the understanding that the real Bill Drummond would travel to Glasgow and carry out a democratic vote as to Elvis loving Bill or Bill loving Elvis.
The real Bill Drummond agreed.
Tenzing Scott Brown picked up his pen and started to write.
We will see…